Young and Hungry

Extreme Makeover, Food Edition: Will The Jockey Club’s New Identity Make The Place Relevant Again?

Goodbye, Jockey Club. Hello, 2100  Prime. Owners of the longstanding restaurant on Embassy Row announced their decision to switch out the old staid name of the place for a more modern moniker this week. One telling reaction to the re-branding of the "grande dame" of the D.C. restaurant scene comes courtesy of Y&H alum and current Washingtonian food critic Todd Kliman. His response: "Wonder what Nancy Reagan thinks."

According to Washington Business Journal, the restaurant "had struggled to remain relevant in an era of more casual, modern restaurants. When the hotel got a multimillion-dollar facelift back in 2008, so did the restaurant (which also went through a few new chefs), but it never really caught on in popularity."

As described in PR materials, the newer branding scheme invokes all the right buzzwords in contemporary dining: "all-natural ingredients," "hormone-free meats," "fish that is not over-produced," "produce grown locally," "respect for farmers," and so forth.

And yet, the place isn't totally forgoing the nostalgia angle, either: the revamped fall menu nonetheless includes a section called "Memory Lane," offering up old staples such as lobster thermidor and Dover sole.

What do you think? Is a flashy new identity enough to convince you to reconsider the old Jock?

Logo courtesy of the Jockey Club—er, 2100 Prime

  • otberbur

    I ate at the Jockey Club last spring after the current executive chef had assumed his duties. My meal may not have been typical -- we were treated by my in-laws, who had previously met the chef, who emerged from the kitchen to greet us as our meal began. But it certainly indicated that the chef was capable of producing very good to excellent dishes outside the constraints of the old Jockey Club menu. The old standbys worked well too.

    As we dined in a virtually empty room, it seemed to me that the restaurant had three options: (1) package itself less as a place for movers and shakers (who have moved on) than as a place to eat a good meal and be able to converse in sedate surroundings; (2) try for a retro "Mad Men" vibe: or (3) try to create a contemporary restaurant. The last iteration of the Jockey Club appeared to be trying strategy (2) without much success. Strategy (3) would require a total renovation of the room. I would choose strategy (1), which may not please Todd Kliman, but would satisfy the unmet desires of many for a quiet restaurant near downtown serving well-execured food at a less than stratospheric price.

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  • Jane

    Generally if you need to ask if a place can be relevant again, the answer is no. Even when looking over the restaurant it always felt like the sort of place I ought to take my grandparents.

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